Chim­ing the hours with wind­chimes

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Front Page -

Since an­cient times, wind chimes have been used to dec­o­rate struc­tures, pro­mote calm­ness and en­hance con­nec­tion to spirit. Hot Springs res­i­dent Helen Blow­ers cre­ates hand­made wind chimes to fuel her flea­mar­ket shop­ping ten­den­cies, to ex­er­cise her artis­tic tal­ents, and to pro­vide her friends and clients with cus­tom­ized gifts unique to their life­styles.

“I guess it all started in 2010 when I was on be­reave­ment leave af­ter my grand­mother passed away,” Blow­ers says. “Look­ing at a bro­ken wind chime, I thought, ‘I can prob­a­bly fix that my­self,’ and I did. The next thing I knew, I was scroung­ing around thrift shops on my days off to find things from which I could con­struct the­matic wind chimes – can­dle hold­ers, or­na­men­tal boats, frogs or any­thing else I could drill a hole into. Then, I started shop­ping for things to add tex­ture and melody – like macrame, but­tons, beads, screws, bolts and sil­ver­ware.”

A na­tive of Eng­land, Blow­ers moved to Hot Springs in 1979 with her for­mer hus­band, a French chef who was hired to staff La Mirabelle restau­rant on Lake Cather­ine. Fol­low­ing their di­vorce, Blow­ers stayed here and started work­ing in the op­er­at­ing and in­stru­ment rooms of National Park Med­i­cal Cen­ter. “One day, a guy at the hos­pi­tal gave me an old part from the au­to­clave – the de­vice we use to ster­il­ize in­stru­ments in a pres­sur­ized high-tem­per­a­ture steam en­vi­ron­ment. My first thought was, ‘I could use this to make a wind chime.’ Th­ese days, I sup­pose I think in those terms about nearly ev­ery­thing.”

Through Blow­ers’ artis­tic eyes, she sees creative po­ten­tial in even the most mun­dane ob­jects. “I keep a men­tal list of which friends like what sorts of things,” she ad­mits. “One doc­tor, for in­stance, likes yachts. So when I stum­bled upon a slightly dam­aged model of a yacht at Abil­i­ties Un­lim­ited, I bought it, made the nec­es­sary re­pairs and then used it as part of a wind chime. An­other time, I bought a bucket of chil­dren’s wooden blocks and used them to make a wind chime as a teacher’s gift.”

Blow­ers says cre­at­ing the right sound is the tough­est part of mak­ing a good wind chime. “I’m not in the mar­ket to cre­ate thou­sand-dol­lar wind chimes like the ones you find in the gift shop at Gar­van Wood­land Gar­dens,” she ad­mits. “Still, I want mine to be aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing. To do that, I’ve used things like old shower and towel rods, which I string to­gether with 50-pound fish­ing line. I’ve also used scrap me­tal, alu­minum, brass and cop­per – ba­si­cally what­ever tube-like shapes I can find! On the other end of the spec­trum, I’ve used knives, forks and spoons; but they sound a bit more tin­kly.”

Helen and her hus­band, Doug, live in a home they built 23 years ago on High­way 5 north. Re­cently, the cou­ple con­verted an in­ti­mate wooden cabin on the prop­erty into a stu­dio and gallery.

“In a con­vo­luted ef­fort to sell my wind chimes at the lo­cal farm­ers’ mar­ket, I bungee-corded a va­ri­ety of the dan­gly things to a rack for trans­port. It was dis­as­trous; they just don’t travel well. Maybe af­ter I re­tire, I’ll fig­ure out a bet­ter plan so that I can dis­play them some­where down­town dur­ing gallery walks.”

Blow­ers says the en­tire creative process is ther­a­peu­tic for her. “Hav­ing worked 28 years in a hos­pi­tal with a very sup­port­ive group of

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.